Kevin Willis

News Director

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio.  He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.  He is a broadcast journalism graduate of WKU, and has won numerous awards for his reporting and feature production.  Kevin grew up in Radcliff, Kentucky and currently lives in Glasgow.

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Sports
8:30 am
Thu December 13, 2012

NYT: WKU Hiring of Petrino Opens Nationwide Debate on Ethics, Athletics

Bobby Petrino spoke at his introductory news conference at WKU.
Credit WKU Athletics

The New York Times has this story looking at WKU's hiring of Bobby Petrino as the school's next head football coach. The Times says Monday's hiring of Petrino began a discussion over  whether "Western Kentucky had made a Faustian decision to trade its morality for the possibility of on-field success."

As WKU Public Radio reported Monday, athletic director Todd Stewart said Petrino was the number one name on the school's wish list when the head coaching job opened up.

All this took place after Willie Taggart left WKU Friday to become the next head coach at the University of South Florida.

WKU has announced that despite the hiring of Petrino, WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will coach the team Dec. 26 in the Little Caesar's Bowl vs. Central Michigan.

Business
10:56 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Kentucky's Bourbon Distillers Rooting for State Tax Reform

Barrels aging in a warehouse at Woodford Reserve in Versailles
Credit Kevin Willis

One of the big issues Kentucky lawmakers are expected to take up in the next legislative session is an overhaul of the state tax code. It's something that the commonwealth's bourbon distillers will have their collective eyes on, because a provision under consideration would create a new tax credit for manufacturers designed to offset a longstanding barrel tax.

"We pay a tax on every barrel that is aging in the commonwealth, as long as it sits in one of our warehouses. So if you're drinking a bottle of 18-year- old bourbon, it's been taxed 18 times," says Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association. "That makes Kentucky non-competitive in the global marketplace. We are the only alcohol manufacturer in the world that pays such a tax."

Tax legislation designed to help Kentucky's bourbon distillers has previously passed in the Senate, but has never made it out of the House. Gregory says distillers are sensing a renewed seriousness on the part of many lawmakers to get a tax code overhaul passed next year, either in the regular session that begins January 8, or during a special session.

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Education
9:57 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Three Selected for Sixth Class of Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame

Members of the sixth class of the Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame have been announced—and all three inductees have strong connections to the listening area of WKU Public Radio. The Teacher Hall of Fame was established in 2000, and is housed on the campus of Western Kentucky University.

Here's information on the three women who will be inducted next February:

Eloise Hadden

A native of Raywood, Texas, Eloise W. Hadden taught Home Economics for 33 years in Logan and Simpson counties.

She taught at Auburn High School from 1954 to 1982, Logan County High School from 1982 to 1985, Logan County High School Homebound Teacher from 1985 to 1987, and Martha Layne Collins Pilot Project Career Ladder in Franklin in 1987. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1956 from WKU.

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Politics
9:35 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Reid: I Won't Campaign Against Mitch McConnell

Harry Reid (D-NV)

The leader of the U.S. Senate says he won’t involve himself in efforts to knock off Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is promising to stay off the campaign trail as McConnell tries to win a sixth term in Washington.

The website Politico quotes Senator Reid—a Nevada Democrat-- as saying it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for him to campaign publicly against McConnell. There is a long tradition of Senate leaders avoiding public campaigning against their counterparts, given that they have to—at least in theory—try to work together to get things done.

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Sports
12:58 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

WKU Introduces Bobby Petrino as Next Head Football Coach

Bobby Petrino spoke at his introductory news conference at WKU.
Credit WKU Athletics

The new head football coach at WKU was met with applause from a room packed with people Monday afternoon. When Bobby Petrino made his way to the podium alongside WKU athletic director Todd Stewart, he was instantly recognized by college football fans in the Bluegrass State and beyond.

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Regional
5:00 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Central Kentucky Food Bank Hopeful Donations Remain Steady in Light of Embattled Louisville Charity

Credit feedingamericaky.org

The founder of USA Harvest is due in court later this month to answer to charges of stealing money from the charity for personal gain.  Stan Curtis of Louisville faces charges of mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income tax returns.

It's cases like this that angers Tammy Delaney who is with Elizabethtown-based Feeding America: Kentucky's Heartland.

"We're in the business to keep our name clean and help people and do the right thing with our funds," remarks Delaney.  "When that sort of thing happens, it can cause confusion and it can cause people to want to hang on to their dollars versus giving it sometimes.  That's just hard to overcome for non-profits in general."

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Sports
8:16 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

WKU Football Coach Willie Taggart Leaving for South Florida

Willie Taggart is leaving his alma mater for South Florida.

WKU head football coach Willie Taggart is leaving the school to become the coach at the University of South Florida. Taggart is a Florida native who has been an ace Sunshine State recruiter for the Hilltoppers.

Taggart broke the news to his players after Friday's practice, and then boarded a plane that night for Florida.

At a Saturday morning news conference athletic director Todd Stewart said he, like everyone, had been hearing rumors for weeks about Taggert's future and said he really wasn't surprised given what he called the current landscape of college football.

"I was optimistic that he would stay here because of the financial package we could offer him and because, as he has frequently said, WKU is in his DNA," Stewart said, "After more than doubling his salary a year ago, we were prepared to offer him a much better contract than he even had this year but there are some ties to Florida that obviously weight heavily into the situation."

Hilltopper's tight end, senior Jack Doyle, said the team was initially shocked at the news but Stewart spoke to the players early Saturday morning.

"One thing he said was 'Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react,'" Doyle said. "So it's up to these seniors to get this team right and get them to react the right way. We've been through so much as seniors the past 4-5 years here so there's nothing that can really divide us now."

WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named interim head coach while the search for a permanent head coach is underway.

WKU will play Dec. 26 in the Little Caesar's Bowl vs. Central Michigan. The Toppers went 7-5 on the season, including wins against Kentucky, Southern Mississippi, and Sun Belt Conference champ Arkansas State.

Taggert had been earning a base salary of $425,000 a year at WKU. South Florida paid their last head coach $2 million annually. Taggert must pay WKU a $500,000 buyout.

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Regional
10:23 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Ealum Chosen as Next Owensboro Police Chief

WKU Public Radio has confirmed that Art Ealum has been chosen to be Owensboro's next Police Chief. The decision was made Tuesday afternoon by the Owensboro City Commission.

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Health
9:41 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Many Tennessee Meningitis Patients Received Old Medicine Well Past "Best By" Date

Nearly 150 patients exposed to potentially contaminated steroid injections in Tennessee were given medicine that was well past the normal shelf life. The Tennessean reports some of the medicine was more than seven weeks old, well past the industry standard of 24 hours.

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Education
7:30 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Click Here to See High-Performing Schools in Warren, Daviess, Pulaski, Barren, and Hardin

More than half of Kentucky's public high school students last year were not prepared for college or careers based on the results of an assessment released Friday. Despite that alarming finding, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said the results showing that 47 percent of high schoolers are ready to advance are a significant improvement over the previous year's 38 percent.

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